Gil Hodges was born in Princeton, Indiana and would serve in the U.S. Marines during World War II. Gil would play first base and the outfield in his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. On October 3, 1943, at age 19 however, 11 days later Hodges joined the U.S. Marines. Gil was part of the Invasion of Okinawa in April 1945 and received the Bronze Star Medal for heroism under fire.
From 1943-1957 Gil played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and from 1958 – 1961. After the move from Brooklyn Gil joined the New York Mets through the expansion draft. Gil, in 1962, was then reunited with Duke Snyder, and Don Zimmer as the new Mets opened their new season at the Polo Grounds in 1962 and 1963 located at Coogan’s Bluff in upper Manhattan section of New York City at Frederick Douglas Boulevard and 155th street.
After the New York Giants Baseball Club moved on to San Francisco in 1957 to play at Seales Stadium in the Mission district of San Francisco and then Candlestick Park they became the second team to relocate to the west coast from New York City. The Brooklyn Dodgers then relocated from New York City in 1957. However, in 1964 the Mets moved to their new location Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York as the New York World’s Fair was kicking off right next door at Flushing Meadows Park.
Gil Hodges at the time was managing the Washington Senators. While Gil Hodges was the manager for the Washington Senators, a team that also had Hispanic players like Minnie Minoso, who went on to be a superstar for the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians Baseball Clubs. Minoso also became the only three-decade player in MLB history. Others who played for Gil Hodges were Paul Cassanova a catcher from Cuba, Phil Ortega a pitcher from Mexico, and Diego Segui a relief pitcher from Cuba who went on to pitch the historic opening games for the two new Seattle franchises, the Seattle Pilots, in 1970 and who eventually later moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers in 1971; and then Seattle sought a franchise and was part of a new MLB team expansion that brought in the new Seattle Mariners. Diego Segui once again became the opening day pitcher
On April 16,2022. I had the pleasure of attending the New York Mets press conference at Citifield and had the opportunity the meet with the children of Gil Hodges and appreciate what great work their father did during his career in baseball as a player and as a manger. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to have met the family of a great competitor and baseball man and Veteran. Congratulations to the Hodges Family after 50 years of waiting for the greatest honor baseball can bestow, enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
By Gabriel Tito Avila, Jr
HHBM Network International